Complaints Management Best Practice

August 21, 2011

A press release on 15 August 2011 from CDC Software and Mathew James Customer Care Solutions (described as the independent customer service consultancy) announced “the need for a common set of customer complaint and feedback management processes to provide a benchmark for all customer-facing businesses”.

CDC is one of a number of solutions that I had originally tracked down when looking for National Indicator 14 (NI14) and customer satisfaction applications and appears on the list I compiled of companies that supply such.

I would still argue that successful delivery of services can only be done if all channels are monitored for effectiveness and the press release lists out the code of six proposed best practices:

“1) Culture. Look at customer complaints as highly targeted business intelligence and use root cause analysis to improve the business, increase brand value, reduce complaint volume and to cross-sell products and services.

2) KPIs. Understand that badly set KPIs hamper the quality of complaint resolution. Good complaints management is about the quality and effective resolution of each complaint, not, for example, the number of calls handled.

3) Technology. The right technology will revolutionise customer service. An intuitive, easy-to-use and informative customer management platform will “listen” to the customer and “tell” the business what it is doing right and where it is going wrong!

4) People. Customer service personnel are the face of the business. They form customer opinions. It is vital to have the right people in place and they must be trained and empowered.

5) Trends. Monitor trends to ensure the root cause of repetitive complaints is established and processes put in place, or new services developed, to avoid unnecessary customer complaints and ensure future customer satisfaction.

6) Social media. Businesses need to understand the speed and breadth of information flow and be pro-active. Monitor activity, anticipate issues and pro-actively communicate using the preferred channel of each customer group.”

These were all lessons from my own research and I welcome and encourage their use as best practice.


Channelled thinking

December 2, 2010

A seminar/workshop on 26 November 2010, provided by the Yorkshire & Humber Transformation Support Framework (TSF) in conjunction with the same region’s Socitm, for local authorities in the region looked at “Self-service: unlocking the potential in Yorkshire & Humber”.

One of the presenters was Simon Pollock, Head of  Customer Services at Surrey County Council, who provided a very humorous and challenging look at how Surrey made a difference by managing to channel shift some of their citizens reducing the number of calls to the contact centre by increasing the use of the Internet channel. One of the many things he gave us to think about was how to develop a channel strategy, providing Surrey’s as a good start!

Some things a number of the presenters agreed upon were that:

  • more than 50% of the users of local government websites were after information (not transactions)
  • the Internet is not always the ideal channel for all services or transactions
  • one person in control of customer contact
  • use the public website in the contact centre
  • market it (the website)

and of course the need to measure usage and employ feedback from all the channels involved!

Now, how long have I been saying these things…

NI14 is dead, long live parsimony!

April 4, 2010

Having announced the departure of NI14, the question entered my head what happens to monitoring “failure demand“? If authorities were at least trying to track usage on channels and report back to services where they were failing, the measure (NI14) may have had some value, no matter how overcooked it was!

Instead, we now possibly have a vacuum in the understanding of multiple and cross-channel service delivery.

So, what to do? Well the last three years or more of my research have resulted in this model:

indicating that a suitable way of monitoring channel shift, improving channel shift and possibly improving service across all channels is to record usage and (dis)satisfaction across ALL citizen channels. It’s no use picking on one channel, you have no way of knowing where the variation occurs.

anybody thinking about this might consider one of the tools on my Company table V8 or develop something similar of their own, but if they want to manage channel shift, along with improving service delivery, they should consider employing what I continue to call Citizen Engagement Management ( a tool to understand how citizens respond across multiple channels to how services are attempted to be delivered).

A week in politics…

March 28, 2010

A week in politics can be a long time and the once commencing 22nd March 2010 was no exception! Tuesday saw the PM’s speech about the semantic web and Mygov. Wednesday brought the budget with the cuts to jobs and spending afforded by the various efficiency savings. Thursday brought the Total Place report being published by the Treasury. Friday produced the updated Smarter Government report, announcing the demise of NI14, which came from the CLG.

So, apart from coming from different bits of Whitehall, what can we glean in common from these four? Not very much? Perhaps that’s a clue? Whilst the CLG have had to drop NI14 when it had barely started, the most hotly challenged and debated performance indicator on record, Total Place demonstrates that efficiencies, in this time and place, are less about channel shift and more about channel focus, along with being more about understanding citizen behaviour than recording how bad government services are at not doing what they expected.

What about the DGPSU (the Digital Public Services Unit!)? How will this differ from the previous incarnations (including Office of the E-Envoy and the E-Government Unit)? The E-Government Unit became the largest unit within the Cabinet Office. Will the DGPSU follow suite? Will this aid or contest the Government ICT Strategy’s aim to centralise at least a good chunk of government IT management?

I suspect we will have to wait and see, but at least this time I gather there is a local government presence there at the moment – let’s see if anyone listens…


February 9, 2010

A report to appear amidst the grey literature in February is one from Localis entitled “For Good Measure – Devolving Accountability for Performance and Assessment to Local Areas“.

However, what worries this practitioner/researcher amongst all the proposals for a bright, lighter world is an issue raised in 

Dunleavy, P., Margetts, H, Bastow, S and Tinkler, J., (2006). “New public management is dead. Long live digital-era governance.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 16(3): 467-494.

Where, in the conclusions, on p.488 they ask “whether managers and political elites, long-educated and socialized in NPM approaches, will actually be able to change direction radically enough to fully exploit the potential of DEG reforms.” Where DEG is Digital Era Governance, a model that is e-government done the right way round without all the New Public Management (NPM) baggage of targets and boutique-bureaucracies that have undermined it. A particular concern of mine is that the existing local government management have grown up with NPM and got their jobs by supporting the regimen of performance indicators and inspection, how will they manage without it?

However, the report, along with providing a history of audit in local government requests a reduction of the increasing burden that it places on local authorities, such as the quantity of performance indicators and the indicators employed. Instead, the authors request the involvement  of  citizens (or as they describe them – residents). This needs the new regime to be prepared for co production, cooperatives and communication.